What is YOUR Number?

One of the joys of living in the modern days is the ability to listen to (almost) all my favorites in audio books while I do stuff. (Hey, AUDIBLE! James White Sector General stories. Don’t make me come over there. Also, Operation Chaos.)
I’ll confess it’s been years since I read The Number Of The Beast. I actually don’t have objections to Number Of the Beast – unlike most Heinlein fans. As most of you know, I started with the recent (in the eighties) stuff, and worked backward. Yes, the relationships are weird, but it’s a parallel world and their history is not the same as ours, and perhaps they’re different, too. (We know they are long lived, like the Howards. I mean, everyone in that world is.)
And the end of TNOTB did not disturb me either, but then I’m weird. I LIKE The Unpleasant Profession Of Jonathan Hoag and All You Zombies and introduced my kids to them at an early age, which is probably related to Robert’s preternatural fear of mirrors… (As for what damage reading them Dandelion Wine when they were toddlers might have done to their infant minds, it will take psychiatrists YEARS to dig that up.)
Anyway – TNOTB disturbed me less than audio narration of I Will Fear No Evil or Time Enough For Love. It has less seventies lingo, and the voice is more “right”.
But as I said, it had been a long time since I read it. For those who haven’t, they’re traveling through a quantum apparatus, and they land in “fictional” worlds. They decide to collect the names of authors they all like/worlds they all read repeatedly, so as to figure out where they’re most likely to land.
Now, I was listening to the book and de-catting (by the weekend we’re up to our knees in Havey hair) the house, when suddenly an exchange started a scream of laughter from me. I’m quoting from memory, so probably not exactly, but it goes like this,
“Any Heinlein in there?”
“Four votes, but two for Stranger and two for his future history, so I didn’t count him.”
“I didn’t vote for Stranger, and I won’t humiliate anyone by requiring he admits to it. My G-d, what some writers will do for money.”
I laughed WITH Heinlein (it isn’t so much the money, but that was the big step up in his career and if he did it on purpose I wouldn’t even blame him) and I laughed with the characters, because Stranger didn’t weather well for me, and Robert had to come and find out why I was laughing insanely. So then I had him listen, and it made him laugh. But then it started a discussion about what OUR number was, so to put it.
If you had a quantum traveling apparatus that lands you in certain universes, those universes in which you have, so to put it, long lived part-time, where would you land?
The specification in TNOTB was that these were the books you read and re-read, your reading comfort food, the places you visited when you were too tired and out of it to read anything new. (Note, which seems to be true for me, that there isn’t an option for not-reading. Of course you’re going to read, but when you read and you’re tired, ill or simply out of spoons, you’re not going to read NEW stuff that requires high engagement from you. You’re going to read old stuff, which is like shrugging into your favorite jeans or something.
To me these can be divided into several categories: Old favorites I don’t blush for; comfort food; guilty pleasures and the last hideout.
The last hideout would make for a fun quantum trip. When I’m totally out of it, and warbling (meaning my mind is not obeying and stopping worrying about things it can’t help) I read about dinosaurs. Not cute named dinos, no. I read the sort of listings and classification books that could be used to tranquilize a T-rex, if only you could get him to sit still while you read the first ten pages. At some of the darkest points in my life, when we were broke and didn’t know where and when we’d get out of trouble, I spent weeks or months reading the equivalent of biology manuals. (Mind you I also read what I call argument books “no, you duffos, that dino didn’t eat plants.” “Yes he did, yes he did” “Well, your mom wears dino claws.”… anyway…) I got these from the library and, one glorious day, found a bunch of them in a bookstore’s “free” bin. Yay.
So, at least one of my likely stops, just call me “crunch.”
I haven’t been that bad lately, but it’s not been a picnic. Dan’s company is still… treading water and we’re not sure how long it will hold. Could turn out works out great forever. Or… yeah. I’m trying to do all the needed health stuff just in case, and figure out several escape hatches (I’m Mrs. Belt-and-suspenders) in case it all goes South financially.
So I’ve been reading the other stuff. Even the guilty pleasures.
The ones I don’t mind confessing to:
I read all the Heinlein, in rotation, every few years. Some of the books rotate more slowly than others, like TNOTB, not because I dislike them but because there are always other books I want to read MORE. Like The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.
Then comes Clifford Simak, whom I’d read more often if my kids didn’t like him so much. He tends to disappear into their rooms, which means I own three copies and normally can’t find any. (Pournelle also has a disturbing tendency to do this. Kids!) My favorite of favorites is The Werewolf Principle, closely followed by They Walked Like Men. But mostly I read whichever one the kids have forgotten to hide.
I also re-read Pratchett at least once a year. All of it, except Death. (No, don’t call me a heathen. My guys already do. But I don’t GET into the Death cycle. I slide off.) And Diana Wynne Jones, though lately I’ve been “off” Chrestomancy. I guess I’d read him too much before.
F. Paul Wilson maybe once every two years. Yep, all the books in the Repairman Jack cycle.
I will also admit to my mystery addictions: Agatha Christie (particularly Miss Marple), Rex Stout, Ellis Peters. All of these are on heavy rotation (and out of covers. I should buy them on Kindle.)
All I have to say is I could probably deal with Heinlein’s future history. I would be okay with The Werewolf principle. The world of The Goblin Reservation would be interesting. I’d just as well not land in They Walked Like Men, if it’s okay with everyone. Ankh Morpork? I could do business there. I’d enlist in the guard. Terrorize the city.
Jones could be fun too, but I’m not landing in the world of Repairman Jack, and you can’t make me. It’s as close to horror as I read.
The mysteries… England between the wars? No problem. NYC early twentieth century? I’d figure it out. Shrewsbury in the middle ages? Well… I’d rather NOT, but…
I also regularly re-read Heyer romances. Eh. Regency hygiene. Ew.
Then come my comfort foods. These were things I read while very young. Tom Sawyer. Three Men In A Boat. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Tom Bailey, Story of A Bad Boy by Thomas Bailey Aldrich, (I challenge you to read the chapter of the drowning without being washed in tears,) Giovanni Guareschi, Don Camilo, (if you are a Catholic and/or lived through the cold war these will appeal to you.) Dumas. I will at some point download Sir Walter Scott, whom I haven’t read since childhood, but which I suspect will have the same effect. And if I can ever figure out who wrote the serialized Adventures of Captain Morgan I read as a child (great Grandma’s edition with the original illustrations) I’m sure I’ll love them too. I spent so much time there… would I still land there? Not a good thing. He hated Portuguese and a pirate ship is no place for a woman.
Then there’s the guilty pleasures. First – least said the best – we’ll just say I could very well end up in vintage metropolis (the vintage being circa sixties) or Duckburg, or this little village which still and always resists the invader (yes, my home village. No. I mean the homeland of Asterix and Obelix.)
And then there’s Patricia Wentworth. Don’t judge me. She’s pretty good with the Cinderella formula…
Interestingly ALMOST all my movies are guilty pleasures: Independence Day, Galaxy Quest, Prince of Egypt, The Incredibles, Grosse Pointe Blank, 1776 (sit down, John,) Chicago, Romeo + Juliet (DO NOT judge me!), Sliding Doors and the A & E six hour version of Pride and Prejudice which is reserved fro when I’m ill and need to park somewhere that long. It is nice to doze to, on the sofa, in front of TV.
So… What is YOUR number?

109 thoughts on “What is YOUR Number?

    1. Middle Earth and Barrayar would be on my list too.

      And Barsoom, which is not so good as I do not look good naked nowadays. Thirty years ago, a bit pudgy for that society (unless it happened to look like the Frazetta version, most of my extra weight when young was on my thighs and behind) but not too bad, now, yech. Possibly also Tarzan’s version of Africa, mainly Pal-ul-don or Opar. Might mean very short visits, unless the lord of the jungle happened to be around and bothered to help.

      Elizabeth Peter’s Egypt, the Pournelle/Niven collaborations (+ the third guy on those where there was a third guy. Love Fallen Angels. Maybe I should pack winter gear). Heinlein, yes, although with him the rotation is now very slow.

      And unfortunately I do like horror, especially older stuff. The Great Old Ones. I’d rather not end there.

      And maybe Charles de Lint’s Newford or his version of 80’s Ottawa. The older work better than the newer, there are fewer abused kids and other victim characters. In some of the newer ones that theme has gotten somewhat too underlined to my taste. Yes, I get it, horrible, stop preaching.

      I’m getting pretty fond of Goldport too.

    2. Two others I should have mentioned: the “ancient China that never was” of Hughart’s novels, and the Commonwealth.

      What do you mean, what Commonwealth? The Commonwealth! The Commonwealth of Letters! Oh dear, is it possible that you’ve never read Silverlock? Shoo! Get thee to thy local library, and put in an interlibrary loan request! Or hie thee over to Amazon, where this Kindle edition is currently on sale for only 99 cents!

      What else can I say to persuade you that you need this book? Well, the edition I’m holding in my hands right now has three forewords praising it to the skies, by Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, and Jerry Pournelle, respectively. Enough said. Just go — this will be the best dollar you’ve ever spent.

      1. I’ve read Silverlock. I found it rather –weak. The problems are that
        1. The POV character was not well chosen to see what he has to see, and his arc is unconvincing.
        2. The story needs to evoke the characters it presents rather than splice in a few clues like a crossword puzzle, which is what it does.

        The concept is a good one, but it was not well developed.

        1. This is whimsy-fantasy. It’s of the school of Thorne Smith and his followers, written in a time when American fantasy in book form was either for tiny little kids, for occult thrillers (and there weren’t many of those, and they were usually creepy and ban-worthy) or for people who had to be convinced that it was okay to read fantasy and nobody’d think they were crazy for doing it.

          Now, once you’ve gotten past the gateway of “honest, we’re harmless,” whimsy-fantasy can get very dark and dangerous, or very high fantasyish, or do a lot of sexy comedy, or pretty much whatever the writer wants. But it has to get the reader relaxed first.

          Whimsy-fantasy also tends to be heavily invested in making the POV or protagonist character either represent the reader, or someone just a little bit more pathetic than the reader — at least at the beginning of the novel. The POV character’s mission is to have fun for the reader, and to undergo radical comedic transformation, probably while being embarrassed a lot so as to compensate for the big power uppage at the end. It’s like Mary Sue, if Mary Sues passed through a crucible of pratfalls. Elaborate character study wouldn’t really work.

          Argh. I can’t believe I’ve just explained funny fun funniness.

          1. I don’t see how your comments are relevant to my problem. C. S. Lewis’s recommendation that a simple character is best in the tale of wonder includes the proviso that it must not be unconvincing. A narrator who is traveling through this land must be sensitive enough to convince us that he’s seeing all the important things. Even if you do have an arc from cloddishness to sensitivity, you need to have it be a retrospective account where he uses his new sensitive to show us all. . . it doesn’t have to be elaborate.

            At that, we are told but not shown that he develops throughout the story, but if so, he wouldn’t have so bamboozled himself so late in it, on the Ship of Fools.

            Also, throwing away the chance to return was just anti-climax. He should either never have been told of the chance or taken it, because throwing it away was not done well.

            Besides, the flat crossword-puzzle depiction doesn’t lend itself to a whimsical fantasy world, which needs to look convincing on its own terms.

  1. I have to escape into a good fantasy book or a light mystery. Preferably as usual with talking animals so you have Rita Mae Brown, Lackey but the old standby Lillian Jackson Brauns’s The cat who series was a favorite since I was a child and my mother read them to me. Not too silly but not too deep either

  2. I have been listening to a bunch of Audio Heinlein in the last couple weeks while driving. While Number of the Beast wouldn’t hit the top of my list of Heinlein, it isn’t at the bottom either. Of course there is a lot of Heinlein I have never read, and when listening to Number last week I was thinking that I’m sure I am missing quite a few references because of that. Right now I am most of the way through Friday, and it will hit up in the top third of Heinlein that I’ve read.

    As to my number, while I might end up like the Burroughs and Carters, looking for Barsoom, that is probably the only world we have in common. Grainne would be great, and Pern would probably be fine, a lot of the ‘worlds’ I read wouldn’t necessarily be bad, I don’t know if I would like to land in the middle of the action of the books however. L’Amour, Kratman, Ringo, Weber, Moon, and Williamson all fall into this category. Sir Walter Scott and Ludlum? Yeah, I can skip those worlds, probably the same with Randall Farmer’s Transform universe.

    1. In Friday my big issue is the voice actress. I might be reading too much into it, but her voice sounds like “this is what a heartless Heinlein heroine would sound like” she sounds… oh, stupid and self-satisfied. I couldn’t listen to it, so I re-read the book.

      1. I figure I’ll see you in the Friday-verse. I’m bound to end up there because it’s one of the books I basically know by heart so I hardly need to read it.

  3. James B Johnson – Trekmaster, John Maddox Roberts – Space Angel, James Schmitz – The Witches of Karres.
    These comprise my go-to’s when sick or otherwise down. I’ve always considered them quintessential examples of their types. If I fall asleep reading them, not a problem – I could probable finish them in my dreams, and never miss a paragraph. I’ve read them until the covers are fuzzy and falling apart.
    But if I were to fall into a book, that’s a different proposition. I’m not sure which one it would be. And just possibly it exists only in my mind. If only I could finish my Texas trilogy. In today’s political and economic condition, I think it would be popular.

  4. I would be SOOO Screwed. Cinnabar with David Drakes Caqptain Leary. Worse service with the Slammers. Or the dangerous visions of John Ringo where every book starts with killing off billions. Cold, wet, hungry and in dangerous places with L’Amour’s Sackett family. Then again I might be at a marina boat party picking the brain of Travis Mcgee’s friend Meyer. Or serving as a MI trooper with Heinlein’s Rico. I might have a cushy spot in the engineering section of the Dendari Mercenaries. Or be riding withThe War Gods Own Bazhell Brokenhand. Or, of course sitting in The George in Goldport CO talking to Rafiel and Tom.

  5. oz of course then Heinlein future history moon is a harsh mistress specifically and the flying scenes in the menace from Earth I love the number of the beast don’t ask me why but I read it and read it.Asimov’s robotsalthough I can’t imagine living in that world, then Rex Stout although I suspect I wouldn’t actually like Nero Wolfe, Ellery Queen,Dick Francis and I would figure out how to adapt to the British Horseracing scene.

    guilty pleasures, I’m not going to admit to most in public but j. d. Robb is bad enough we’ll stop there

  6. I’d end up in Middle Earth.

    I’m reading the Lord of the Rings out loud to my children again. It seems I get back to it every couple of years….

    I marvel at the prophetic undertones of Frodo dialog in “The Taming of the Smeagol.” Such a contrast to Sam…. Though I never get tired of Sam’s straightforward loyalty. But Frodo’s discernment… and his grasp of the non-material dimensions of what is happening. It is perfectly executed. And the way the ring seems to warp reality so that Frodo almost appears Lordly. So subtle… so powerful. Brilliantly effective writing.

    1. I got the Hobbit & Trilogy for Christmas this year – I first read them in the ’70’s. I in Fellowship now, where they meet Tom Bombadil. Wish that character hadn’t been cut from the movie!

  7. I suppose I have been irretrivably warped by MilSciFi, but the worlds of Starship Troopers, Steakley’s Armor, and Drake’s Slammers. Twain’s Yankee, Frankowski’s Conrad series, and even the dystopian Draka worlds. McCullough’s Masters of Rome Series. Common threads? Powered armor, civilization building, cultural evolution. Many more, of course, but that’s a start for beach books.

  8. Amber. Chronicles of Amber. Some of the best soft science sci fi disguised as fantasy ever in my opinion.

    1. Just as a by-the-way, the audiobook performance of Nine Princes is read by the author himself (the only way I was willing to accept abridgment) and RZ employs the “voice” of a Raymond Chandleresque first person narrator.

      I had read the book several times when young and never sussed to that.

  9. I read if I have nothing to read– like warning labels, street signs, or anything else.
    But here are a few–
    Old favorites: The Red Pimpernel, The three Musketeers (I need to read that one again), and the Hobbit series. Plus the Bible. I really enjoy the poetic language, tones, and color in the King James Bible. Plus Shakespeare– used to have a thing for Hamlet, but now I like the comedies better.

    Comfort food: Fantasy– but I am getting really tired of the newer writings and the obligatory sex. I don’t mind a sex scene– but one every few pages? I do read the first three of LKH’s books sometimes although I don’t want to live there. I used to like mysteries, but once again I found that the newer ones just don’t get me into the book (which is why I advocate indies because the mystery is not edited out of them).

    Guilty pleasures – Regency romances and sweet romances. 🙂

    Last Hideout: Send me somewhere with a lot of dogs and cats.

    1. Plus I am sure that we would have lots of adventures–hunting, fishing, camping, hiking— and all the other -ings
      And I won’t get tired ever again.

  10. I’d be with the gang that’s running around with the Slammers, or off somewhere with Christian Johnny. Or chasing after the Blue Sword in the high desert (beware sword-wielding redheads). Perhaps sitting near Joe Leaphorn’s car watching the male rains washing across the Four Sacred Mountains or going farther west with Shalako or another L’Amour gents. And tasting the Caribbean winds with Captain Blood. Maybe I’d venture into Valdemar, or De Lint’s world of Moonheart, Yarrow, and Greenmantle.

      1. Ditto. Susan Cooper’s “Dark is Rising” series is an almost-yearly re-read.

    1. For nice light comfort reading, Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest series, and her reallly old series that I’m not sure ever got a proper series name but includes The Raven Ring. Also, any Mckinley book but Deerskin (good, but NOT comfort reading).

  11. Well if I understand correctly, what I reread? Not much actually. Although I have asembled my collection for moving out of tue basement. I say that shall do. Hornblower series and slowly building up my Patrick O brian. Then comes comics. Helblazer. I have reread Dangerous Habits and issue 120.

    As for movies: Master and Commander the far side of the world, again Hornblower series and The Quiet Man.

  12. Not yet mentioned, afaik:

    The Gaean Reach. The Polesotechnic League. Sherlock Holmes’ England.

  13. D E Stevenson She writes wonderful stories. I don’t think I’d like to be in her world because there is so much unsaid and I’m horrible at picking up on implicit clues. I think she’s a descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson.

  14. I re-read all Heinlein, all Austen, and all Lewis (not just Narnia but the planetary trilogy) every couple of years, along with The Mote in God’s Eye and Lucifer’s Hammer. Also a little-known book called Malevil, and Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin stories. Guilty pleasures: Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (sorry).

    I’ve recently re-read Stranger in a Strange Land and TNOTB, both with great pleasure, but my favorite Heinlein re-reads probably are The Puppet Masters, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and the entire YA series, especially Have Spacesuit, Will Travel and Citizen of the Galaxy.

    1. I quite like the Outlander series. Just wish it wasn’t so long between books: and that last short did nowt for me.

  15. I’d wind up on the Solar Queen. Or possibly in the Dales. Hopefully not the Dipple, although I could probably get out.

    Barrayar. or either of LMB’s fantasy universes.

  16. Heinlein, certainment!
    L’Amour, for the love of Zeus someone write the followon to The Walking Drum.
    Jim Butcher’s Dresden series.
    Donald Hamilton, IMHO Death Of A Citizen is a precious gem, followed closely by the rest of the Matt Helm stories.
    An obscure author by the name of John Whitlatch who wrote a double handfull of some of the best men’s adventure novels I’ve ever read. The common thread was a simple man rising to greatness when faced with adversity.
    Guilty pleasures:
    Harry Potter
    All the Charlaine Harris series including but not limited to Sookie Stackhouse.
    Laurell K. Hamilton when I can stand to look past the soft core porn.
    New finds:
    Stumbled upon Child’s Jack Reacher novels and am now working my way through them. About a third done and enjoying the experience immensely.
    And of course the Baen stable: Ringo, Correia, Weber, Williamson, and a young whippersnapper by the name of Hoyt.
    And these are just the ones that come to mind on the fly. My first cut gauge for authors is will I buy a new book simply by the author’s name, or do I need to read the jacket or a review before deciding?

    1. I’m trying to get through the Reacher novels right now (my brother dumped them on me a couple of months ago), but I’m not really enjoying them as much as I expected to from other people’s talk about them. I’m not sure I can explain why.

      1. Must admit there is something not quite human about Reacher. And too the stories, as far as I’ve gotten at least, are becoming somewhat predictable. Reacher falls into a bizarre situation through sheer coincidence, much misdirection as to who’s good and who’s bad ensues, Reacher saves the day through arcane knowledge and pure force of will. Another slight disconnect to me is that while Child has definitely done his research on firearms the descriptions read exactly like that, research, not personal experience. It’s a subtle nuance, but noticeable to a gun aficionado.
        Still, as an entertaining adventure series I’ve seen much worse.

        1. It’s not the “falls into a bizarre situation thought sheer coincidence” that bothers me – that’s a trope that stands the test of time, though the level of strangeness of each situation so far has been kind of excessive.

          I think it’s mostly the fact that (well, so far in the first couple of books) Reacher passes up chances to act, over and over, until his life, or the life of someone who matters to him, is threatened with immediacy, and then he starts breaking things and killing people with a level of viciousness that seems excessive.

          Plus, the level of stupid in some of the ancillary characters is bothersome, even if examples can be found in the real world.

      2. I discovered the Reacher books around the time the movie was being promoted, and now I can’t read them, specifically because the moment I start one I can’t do anything else until I’m done.

  17. The universe of Miller and Lee’s Liaden stories.

    The Regency of Heyer (why haven’t the British made films of these?)

    The Lake District of Ransom’s Swallows and Amazons

    Peter Bowen’s Montana (Gabriel DuPre)

    Barrayar, and to a lesser degree Chalion. I hope Lois Bujold has decades.

    Ahnk-Morpork. I can take or leave most of the rest of Discworld, though I happen to like Susan Sto-Helit (Death’s granddaughter).

    The Edwardian landscape of THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. And I want to kill the idiot who wrote THE WILLOWS IN WINTER, and started off the book by killing The Mole.

    Not sure I want to visit the Hundred Acre Wood.

    Do want to visit Kipling’s world; his India, his England.

        1. Yup, that late. She’s always shied away from what I like as being boring or scary. She finds SciFi to be silly. She really got into fantasy with the Hairy Potty books at 7yrs or so. She’s still upset that Brian Jacques passed away. The Kindle has been a real lifesaver when it comes to her reading, fewer bookshelves.

    1. I am SO completely with you on the Heyer movies. What is wrong with them that they haven’t made them? Is it an estate thing? I was sure they must exist, but I’ve looked and they don’t.

      1. Once upon a time, there was a shockingly bad movie of The Reluctant Widow. It featured a good male lead and a pretty good cast and script, but the female lead was a “saucy bombshell” who played everything like she was a female preying mantis, and whose costumes were interestingly cut. Heyer saw the flick and basically blew her top. From then on, it was written in tight legal language in all her contracts that there would be no movie adaptations of her books.

        If you want to see the car wreck, you can watch it on YouTube. I don’t know why nobody’s made a “Phantom cut” version that gets rid of the bombshell.

        1. I knew THE RELUCTANT WIDOW had been done as a stage play; didn’t know about the film. That explains a good deal.

          I’d still love to see a film of THE GRAND SOPHY or THE UNKNOWN AJAX.

          BTW; Loretta Chase wrote a book – THE DEVIL’S DELILAH – that gives the Heyer “Older Machiavellian Protagonist” character a daughter, and has her fall in love with a bookworm. Not quite as good as Heyer, but great good fun!

  18. I think, if I were going to be transported to an author’s world, and I had to evoke it from my own imagination and longings, I’d end up in Milne’s Enchanted Place at the Top of the Forest. Or sailing the Intracoastal on the Cat’s Paw. Or hiding out in the wildwood with Aaron. Or in Africa with Lord Greystoke.

    I suspect that’s why it’s so hard for me to be hard on my characters. I like the warm-fuzzies.

    Speaking of which: living in the bush on Zarathustra with Pappy Jack and Little Fuzzy.


  19. I’d definitely end up on Zarathustra, opening a can of Extee-Three for a horde of yeeking Fuzzies. Or Liad (I’ve always wanted to discuss etiquette with a Clutch turtle.) For Ankh-Mopork I’d want the guided tour, with the optional armor upgrade because C.M.O.T. Dibbler would see me coming and start twitching from all the scams he’d want to pull on me. I refuse to apologize for my love of Heyer 😉 It’s the witty banter I adore. I’d also probably end up in Ile-Rien (The Element of Fire) so I’d need to brush up on my fencing and derring-do skills. Plus lashings of fey repellent…

    1. Ooh, and Wells’s new series(Cloud Roads, Serpent Sea,) it’s made the list of re-reads. Of course at this point that list has over a hundred books on it, maybe more.

  20. Guilty pleasures… Brat Farrar (Josephine Tey), 3 specific Dick Francis books, A Little Princess (the movies are all horrible), the Austenverse, More than Human (Theodore Sturgeon, alt title The Dreaming Jewels), Three Musketeers/Count of Monte Cristo, Lord of the Rings (annual).

    I recently reread the entire Darkover corpus (Marion Zimmer Bradley), and it’s much better than the first time around, since I could finally read them in world-chronological order. Heyer’s Regencies. The Pern books, sort of (I don’t respect myself in the morning — too much wish-fulfillment). Dodsworth (Sinclair Lewis). The Jungle Books.

    I should do a(nother) reread of Pratchett, but the books are partly inaccessible after a recent move and it will have to wait. Scaramouche (Jeffrey Farnol). Moby Dick (what can I say?). Wasp (Eric Frank Russell). Lots of Gene Stratton Porter: Freckles, Beekeeper, Girl of the Limberlost, Harvester, Michael O’Halloran, Her Father’s Daughter –even with all the faults of her particular time. Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (Jules Verne). Tarzan. Robinson Crusoe. Anything by PG Wodehouse — a delight that never dies (now there’s a world to end up in).

    I find the list is psychologically akin to, ahem, sexual fantasies — you’ve just got your favorites and it’s hard to explain. Some of them go back to childhood (the Howard Pyle Robin Hood used to figure strongly).

    1. Wodehouse, yes, of course. smacks forehead

      Which jars loose: Jo Clayton’s Diadem universe, Cherryh’s Alliance/Union universe, and Stross’s Laundry Files world. Maybe Chandler’s Galactic Rim and Modesitt’s Recluce universe.

  21. Any of the Federation planets in Piper’s Terro-humano universe sound good, but Zarathustra or Poictesme sound the best.
    David Drake and Christopher Anvil have such wonderful worlds, but they are filled with so much strife that doesn’t seem surrvivable.

  22. When I grab something to re-read, it typically comes from one of the following: Bujold, Clarke, Kenneth Grahame, Robert E. Howard, Kipling, Lovecraft, Niven, Tim Powers, Vance, or Zelazny.

    So if I’m going blundering into alternate universes, I have a 20% chance of winding up in an optimistic hard-SF setting, 30% chance of emerging in a more wild space-operatic world, 20% chance of Edwardian England (with or without talking animals), 10% an age of blood and steel, and 20% chance of cosmic horror.

    Not bad odds, really — although my personality type is such that I’m afraid I’d make a very plausible Lovecraft protagonist, and we all know how that’s going to end.

  23. I didn’t mention earlier, since they aren’t SF&F, the works of Patrick O’Brian and the Aubrey/Maturin series. Read them scads of times, and now I own all except 21, and I read them at least once a year.
    And I am so disappointed in the movie!

  24. You guys pretty much got them all, darn it. I would add Paksenarrion’s world, if that’s not been mentioned; Andrea Alton’s Demon of Undoing; Cheryl Franklin’s sf/f universe (although yeah, that’ll kill you quick); Elizabeth Goudge’s universe, which comes with nice houses and fun people and lots of England, unless you’re in the novel Green Dolphin Street; and… Peter J. Floriani’s universe (which is pretty much G.K. Chesterton crossed with boys’ adventure and extreme STEM geekiness, all set in modern America but in an imaginary geography — and yes, oh so Human Wave).

          1. chocolate with raspberries. (BTW she wrote a mystery Radio Frequencies which was quite good. She probably won’t listen to me — we lost touch years ago — but if she starts getting emails/comments asking for radio frequencies, she might publish it?)

  25. Alan Dean Foster’s Narnia-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks Spellsinger universe are high on the list, probably just behind the real Narnia. Moorecock’s Melnibone and Brust’s Dragerea would be on the list, but I doubt I’d survive the visit. The neverwas of the Arabian Nights stories is on the list as is Gilgamesh’s old stomping grounds, Homer’s Troy, and Lieber’s Lankhmar, but I’d have a quick exit handy. (On second thought, Lankhmar might be on the too-dangerous-to-visit list.) Piper’s Federation during its heyday might be where I hole up and enjoy the good life for a while.

    But the absolute, not-to-miss, must see would be Sir Toby Jingle’s amazing circus.

  26. David Drake’s Lacey stories. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden series. The earlier of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern Series (I stop at All the Weyrs.) Laura Ingalls Wilder. The King James Version Bible.

    What this says about my psyche I don’t think I want to know. I also don’t want to know how much the therapy for the kids is going to cost.

    1. Anne McCaffrey is on my list as well. I like a lot of her first books in her series, but not the follow ups so well. Laura Ingalls Wilder has been part of my life since my first memories of my parents reading to me.

      Otherwise… C. J. Cherryh (especially the merchanter ships books), Michelle West/Sagara (Elantra), Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson), and Dave Duncan (King’s Blades). Maybe Sherwood Smith’s Inda series, although this series is new to me.

  27. I’d find myself in Gregor’s Empire, the parts of Ohio Jennifer Cruisie writes about (don’t judge), behind Sneelock’s store in the great McGurk tents (yes, Dr. Seuss–i admit it), or wandering around my home state wondering why *nothing* is where it’s supposed to be & muttering “Oh, John Ringo…” & looking desperately for my house or the library so I could get myself out of the pickle.

  28. Sorry – can’t really play. I MUCH prefer my adventures safely tucked between covers, and am convinced most of my fictional heroes who appreciate the comforts of life would dismiss me as a dunderhead, a dunce, a dullard.

    I don’t want to cross the Mojave with Tell, kill monsters with Owen, hunt The Shadowman with Bishop & Weiss, tour Africa with Tarzan or Allan Quatermain, go exploring with Otto Lidenbrock, Captain Nemo or Professor Challenger. And, just to be perfectly clear: I do NOT like green eggs and ham.

  29. Things I reread include (in no particular order)
    Heinlein – Future History, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, Citizen of the Galaxy, Starman Jones, Time for the Stars, Puppet Masters. Henlein’s books for me are almost always “comfort food”, they’re some of the first real scifi I read.
    Tolkien- Hobbit, Lord of the Rings
    E.E. “Doc” Smith – Lensmen, Skylark of Space. These are getting harder to reread as none are in print and my copies are getting old and dogeared and are 40+ year old paperbacks in some cases. These are definitely guilty pleasures :-).
    Weber – Honor Harrington
    Niven – Known Space Especially Ringworld and Protector
    Gordon Dickenson – Most of the Childe cycle (e.g. Dorsai) especially the early stuff, Dragon And the George
    Walter Miller – A Canticle for Liebowitz,
    Burroughs – Barsoom
    Clancy – Red Storm Rising
    Clarke – Childhoods End
    Scalzi – Old Mans War (but no further…)
    Kevin ODonnell – Journeys of McGill Feighan
    Haldeman – Forever war
    C.S. Lewis – Narnia (learned to love reading to my daughters, also theres
    a lovely audio book adaptation of them)
    Rowling – Harry Potter (again reading to the girls originally, and also the audio versions, The guy that did the US Harry Potter reading is just plain awesome)
    Frank Herbert – Dune, Dragon in the Sea (AKA Under Pressure).
    Asimov – I Robot

    Of course in ‘The Number of the Beast) TV counts too, Star Trek (the original series, Some Next Generation), Babylon 5, And perhaps Dr. Who.

    1. Yes, my copy of Children of the Lens is coming apart. I got new copies of the rest of the Lensman series a few years ago, but that one wasn’t available.

  30. Can I take my own arsenal?

    And, I hate to admit it, but I think I’d most like to see the world I started putting together a few years ago for an RPG campaign that will probably never be run. I want to see it.

    Failing that, I’ve just read everyone else’s contributions and can only say “ditto”.

    1. The Forgotten Realms would be on my list. Followed by a trip to Bahzell’s world so I could be a fly on the wall when an avatar of Mystra explains to Wencit that trying to eliminate magic by letting the evil side have it all is a Bad Idea….

  31. No Known Space?

    I’d be quite curious to see the Enderverse, although on the other hand, today the single place I’d most want to go is the flying cavern from “The Menace from Earth.

    The gripping hand is that I’d be afraid of winding up in a PKD universe…

  32. Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth ranks pretty high for me – it was him and Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels that really kicked off my early reading habits.

    As for reading and guilty pleasures, Starship Troopers gets a regular re-read from me, as does Lord of the Rings. Dresden, of course. Captain Blood. The first four Riftwar books. And another plug for the aforementioned Spellsinger series.

    There was a time when I re-read David Gerrold’s War Against the Chtorr books regularly, but it’s been a long time since I’ve picked one up. And I’ve been waiting with trepidation and horror for the next book in that series so…

    And if we’re bringing comics into the mix, Atomic Robo. Action Science should totally be a thing. Even if it does result in extra dimensional vampires, cloned evil super-scientist brains, Elder Gods, and rampaging pyramids. (yes, rampaging pyramids. Issue four.)

    1. You don’t have to worry — the chances of a fifth book in Gerrold’s grey-goo opus are about the same as me flapping my arms and flying to the moon.

      1. Aw, I liked the first two a lot.
        Three got weird.
        And then four got really super disturbing.
        I’m kind of glad we’ll never see book five, considering what he hinted was coming.

  33. Maybe the Schlock Mercenary universe for science fiction. For fantasy, it would be Middle-earth or Narnia.

    1. The Schlock Mercenary universe as long as I could get well away from Tagon’s Toughs and the UNS. They do have some cool technology to play with, but I doubt I’d live long enough to use any of it in close proximity to the plot. 😛

      They also have some nightmare-fuelish things out there in their world that would be nice to keep on the other side of a page also.

      1. I suppose that’s something of an issue with a lot of fictional universes: Given that there’s usually a desperate conflict of some sort going on in LOS of the plot. Where would I like to go might have to be tempered with “how long would I realistically last?”

  34. I tried posting earlier, but didn’t manage to do it. [sigh] May have to break down and buy a new(er) computer. Anyway…

    Guilty pleasures: re-reading quite a few of the books listed above, plus a few others not mentioned. I do like Leon Uris, James Michener, Herman Wouke, and a few dozen others not mentioned above. I also like some of the LJB “Cat who…” books, and Dorothy Gilman’s “Emily Pollifax” books, plus a couple of stand-alones and shorter series. I LOVE Douglas Reeman’s milfic, and re-read all the copies I have frequently. James White’s “Sector General” books also make the list, as do the “Flinx” books of Alan Dean Foster. One of the things that re-started my writing habit was the idea I submitted to Piers Anthony for what became “Yon Ill Wind”, including the title. New writers that have grabbed my attention include our hostess, Tom Kratmann, Dave Freer, David Weber, Pam Uphoff, and Stephanie Osborn. There’s a ton more — my bookshelves all groan.

  35. Karres would be a fine place to homestead, especially if you could rell a Vatch and get some hooks in it. Telzey is cool too, and the Hub is pretty wild. I don’t know why someone hasn’t made some movies – The Witches seem ready made given the tech now available and certainly more coherently plotted than Star Wars.

  36. I too loved TNotB, and it’s how I got hooked on EE Doc Smith.

    I know that many of the worlds I would love to visit as stories – the Dresden books, John Ringo’s books, yours, etc. – would (as in the book) NOT be places I wish to live. OK – maybe in some areas.

    Otherwise, I look at my shelves. Daniel DaCruz, Pournelle, Niven, Anthony, Asprin, Stasheff, Heinlein, ad infinitum…. and that’s jsu tthe stuff that made it through many, many, many Navy moves.

    Also, I wanted to comment on Bioshock in general (and doing so here rather with the article you mentioned it in passing….)

    Yeah, the background it came from (including System Shock), and I’m sure the path that arrived at the story started from a “people suck” perspective, yet…. they’re interesting if dark morality fables.

    I would not recommend you play the games, but I think this review of infinite is worth looking at:


    I’ve only played the first one. I can say that it is not the dismantling of objectivism that it seems at first blush – though I think that was what was intended (much like Firefly is very libertarian from a very NOT libertarian author..). Instead, the failure that lead to tyranny is one that all forms of extreme anrachy meet in some way or other in their path to strong-man government, and the ultimate failure was to reject extending the ideal of “I choose” to others.

  37. I would like to visit some of the worlds of books & drama I have known.

    Catcher In The Rye so I can smack that whiny little Caulfield punk upside the head and tell him to grow a pair.

    Star Trek so I can write-up Captain Kirk for so frequently risking the ship’s command on exploratory missions.

    Citizen Kane to tell that lawyer, Aw, Let the kid keep his d-mn sled.

    Animal Farm to sell Farmer Jones on the idea of a good ol’ fashion pig pickin’.

  38. Karres, Archer’s Beach (rather than Liad), Narnia, Middle Earth, Valdemar. I also love (and can quote pages) of Kipling’s Stalky and Company although I’m not sure I’d want to BE at that school. Got me through some very rough spots as a youngster though.

  39. Personally: I think David Drake nailed it with my cameo in the Leary-Mundy stories: Give me a starship, just after the Return To Starflight, and send me off exploring.

    Knowing my luck, tho’, I will end up as Sheriff on the island of Amity just before the 4th-of-July…. 😛

  40. Lots of novels come to mind. Andre Norton’s “Witch World” series, certainly, and the three books comprised in “Warlock.” Elizabeth Moon’s books dealing with Paksenarrion and her world. Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s books about Nuala are excellent — I recently reviewed them at Shiny Book Review (“Fires of Nuala,” “Hidden Fires,” and “Fire Sanctuary”) — and are massively underappreciated, being just as good as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books IMO (there just not being as many of them). Of course MZB is on this list, too. Lois McMaster Bujold — Cordelia’s my favorite character there, and if I were to have to deal with coming back as a fictional character (not exactly what you asked, mind), I’d want to come back as Nicol the quaddie musician.

    As for the old(er) masters, I’d be interested to see Lazarus Long and his world, much less his mother, but I’d also be terrified, so I’m not sure I’d want to end up in any of RAH’s worlds even though I enjoy his writing quite a bit. Poul Anderson’s novels about Dominic Flandry — many critics felt they were misogynistic, but I didn’t. I felt Dominic Flandry was a true romantic, and thus was burned many, many times, so he didn’t want to give his heart away. (Of course, when he did, in “A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows,” his beloved didn’t end up living anyway.) Roger Zelasny and the books of Amber. Many more, I’m sure, but those are the ones that come to mind right away.

    Guilty pleasures? Finishing the “Wheel of Time” series with Brandon Sanderson doing the writing based off what Robert Jordan left behind plus any conversations Jordan’s widow had with Jordan before he died (as Jordan’s widow edited the series until the end) was certainly that. Good, but not the same as Jordan, and a good role model for what I’m trying to do in finishing up my husband’s works.

    Non-SF? Certainly the works of Dorothy Sayers and P.G. Wodehouse would be places I’d like to visit, if not stay for a lengthy period of time . . . I think I’d find the milieu too mannered if I had to live there, but visiting (frequently) is just my cup of tea. (Or beer.)

    1. I wouldn’t mind exploring Kimbriel’s AU in the Night Calls duology (and I wish she’d write another one).

  41. I think what I reread goes in phases. The books I can quote large chunks of though are robably where I’d end up. So I’ll be trying to avoid Vogon poetry and the products of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, After that I’ll be with our hostess meeting Marjorie Baldwin and I’ll be with Eleanor in Stalky & co. I expect I’ll pay a visit to the Discworld too.

    Right now I’ll probably be in Freer’s Burdens of the Dead though because I just reread all those books and if I survive that I’ll probably pay a visit to Manticore.

    In the past I’d have been somewhere on Pern, but I don’t think I’ll get there anymore as I haven’t reread any McCaffery in ages. Ditto 1632. I might make it to Grainne as I just reread Freehold & sequels. And I think I’d better go reread Dog & Dragon a few more times to make sure I can visit there too.

    1. Weirdly, as much as I FIRST loved Pern I’ve found I can’t read her now. The language somehow rubs me wrong, which is stupid but there it is.
      I started to LISTEN to Moretta which is one of those books I read ragged and the language got to me, followed by something absolutely not McCaffrey’s fault: a lot of the things she used have now become cliches of bad fantasy. This is not her fault, and part of it was that she was imitated — like the “gathers” for public get togethers — and she wasn’t even writing fantasy. BUT she used fantasy “feel” and has been copied so much that now it’s like nails on the chalkboard.

      1. Several years ago I read a (surprisingly) good book about dragons in modern fiction. I’d not realized that McCaffrey was the first author to break the “dragons are pure evil” pattern in a large and successful way. I wonder if later writers picked up her dragons and dragged along everything else in the process?

        I don’t read her books anymore, but I can still recite the first paragraph of “Dragonflight” from memory, and made up tunes for a lot of the Harper Hall songs over the years. 🙂 *shrugs* I imprinted.

        And let’s face it, when you are an outcast nerd who’s unsure of herself, the Dragon Rider books are not bad encouragement to keep fighting. Ditto the first Valdemar books (Arrows of the Queen trilogy).

  42. I’ve not wanted to say where I would prefer to wind up, but I’ve been thinking of the places I DO NOT want to be. The primary one is McAffrey’s universe which contains the stories like Sassinak, Dinosaur Planet, etc. An enforced ALL VEGAN interstellar society? Oh, HELL no.

    Xanth appears to be a tad dangerous if you didn’t grow up there to learn about how to identify dangerous things. Obviously Deathworld is right out. That’s all I can think of right now.

    Most worlds, really, wouldn’t be too bad for the average Joe. it’s mostly the people who get into the Adventures we like to read about who get into situations which would scare the tar out of you.

    1. Harrison’s Deathworld is only dangerous for violent-minded right-wingers; it is perfectly safe for peace-and-love filled tree-huggers.

      One advantage of creating your reality to order, out of whole cloth.

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